SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois State Capitol is decking the halls with holly, a menorah, and a Satanic statue.
This holiday season, the Satanic Temple of Chicago has been granted permission to place their statue in the lobby of the state Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office told CNN.
The statue is approximately four and a half feet tall and about 18 inches long, spokesman Dave Druker said, and it depicts a snake wrapped around an arm holding an apple with the inscription “knowledge is the greatest gift.”
The statue has been on display since Monday and will remain through the end of the month, according to officials.
“We feel it’s a First Amendment issue, we have other displays there — a Hanukkah menorah and Nativity scene,” Drucker said. “If you have displays of one type you need to be consistent and allow everyone to do so, aside from hate speeches and other unacceptable things.”
The Satanic Temple says that its members are atheists who are often interested in community activism, according to the group’s website.
“We do not promote a belief in a personal Satan,” the website says. “To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.”
The group says it embraces the “struggle for justice” and believes people should “strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures,” according to its website.
Local reaction has run the gamut from supportive to outraged.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” Illinois resident Wayne Rovey told CNN affiliate WMBF. “It seems like it’s a part of the freedom of speech and it doesn’t project a bad message.”
Shellie Berg told the station she found the display unsuitable.
“I think it’s inappropriate because it’s not something that should be displayed for a lot of people to be offended by,” Berg told WMBF. “I would be offended by that myself.”
Druker says the statue is stirring up a lot of talk, but he’s not sure if many people have actually seen it for themselves.